Getting Used to Standing Desks and Reaping the Benefits

If you have a 9-5 desk job, whether at home or in the office, you may be suffering from the “sitting disease.” Many people spend at least 40-50 hours a week sitting in front of a computer, a TV, or commuting to work, not realizing they are at risk for chronic disease. But thankfully, a few have already switched to using a standing desk that allows them to change their sedentary lifestyle to a healthier one.

Gina Trapani's standing desk

Lifehacker founding editor Gina Trapani switched to this standing desk set-up. Source: smarterware.org.

Why People are Switching to Standing Desks

Studies have shown that prolonged sitting can increase one’s risk of having heart disease and diabetes, hence the name, “sitting disease”. This is known to occur, even if people go to the gym or do some exercise a few hours a week. The fact that one spends a lot of time continuously sitting in a day is enough to cause an imbalance in calorie expenditure and increase biomarkers like cholesterol and blood sugar. This is why some people have switched to a healthier way of doing their usual desk job – standing, instead of sitting.

Standing desks are not new at all. Stand-up desks have been used for centuries by great men such as Thomas Jefferson, Winston Churchill and Charles Dickens. Today people are improvising their own standing desks from different materials or using adjustable desks with ergonomic design.

Adjusting to Standing: How to Get Used to It

Users of standing desks have found that standing while working promotes better posture and increases their energy level because it makes them avoid slumping or slouching. However, getting used to it may not be that easy, especially if you have been used to 8-10 hours of sitting in a day.

Here are some tips from people who have switched to standing desks:

  1. Build or get a desk with the proper height that will suit you, so that your shoulders and elbows fall naturally to your sides without causing strain. Make sure that the computer monitor is at appropriate eye level and the keyboard is placed comfortably.
  2. New users may want to use a desk with adjustable height or a sit-stand desk just in case they may need to sit down. A standing desk with a split level dual surface top is also one great option.
  3. Use comfortable padded shoes, or go barefoot. Find a soft carpet, mat or rug to protect your feet, making sure it doesn’t slip.
  4. Do not stay in a steady position for long periods. Shift your weight from one leg to the other, wiggle your ankles once in a while or take a short walk away from the desk periodically. This strategy has its own benefits – you burn more calories and strengthen your muscles more.
  5. Take sit-down breaks periodically. Many stand-up desk users usually begin standing in the morning, take sitting lunch breaks and go back to work standing.
  6. Use your standing time to do important work, avoiding all temptation to check out your emails or social networking sites. Then when you need a break to have coffee, take phone calls or visit your Facebook account, sit for a few minutes, resisting the urge to sit longer than you need to.
  7. Excessive standing can cause spider veins or varicose veins to show. These may be avoided by moving the legs and feet and not staying in a steady position for a long time. So put on some music and start moving. Muscle contraction will improve blood circulation, so keep your feet active or sit if you have to.

Foot aches and leg discomforts are expected in the first few days, but soon enough, when you get used to it, you might never want to consider sitting for long periods again.

 

References

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